What the Bible says about
Abomination of Desolation
(From Forerunner Commentary)
This is what must happen before the Second Exodus. Notice that it is called "Jacob's Trouble," not either "Israel's Trouble" or "Judah's Trouble." Both houses will experience it. God causes Jacob's descendants to be greatly troubled because of their sins. This time of unprecedented crisis—"none is like it"—corresponds to the time of "great tribulation" of which Jesus Christ warns:
"Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. . . . For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24:15-16, 21-22; emphasis ours throughout)
Luke's version of the Olivet Prophecy uses different language to describe the same time and events:
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. . . . For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24; see Revelation 11:2; emphasis ours)
Just as Christ reassures us in Matthew 24:22 that this will not be the complete end of mankind, Jeremiah promises that Jacob will be saved out of his trouble. Even though that "day" is great, and like nothing we have seen before, it will not be the end of Jacob.
Jeremiah 30:5-7 does not detail why that time is one of tribulation. The only clue we have in these verses is that God compares it, not just to a woman in labor, but to a man in labor. This is certainly an unusual symbol, but the picture of the sorrows and pains of labor and childbirth elsewhere helps us to understand what it portends. For example, Isaiah 13:6-8 prophesies:
Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will be limp, every man's heart will melt, and they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; they will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; they will be amazed at one another; their faces will be like flames.
A similar illustration appears in Isaiah 26:16-18:
LORD, in trouble they have visited You, they poured out a prayer when Your chastening was upon them. As a woman with child is in pain and cries out in her pangs, when she draws near the time of her delivery, so have we been in Your sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth wind; we have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth, nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen.
Paul also uses this symbol in I Thessalonians 5:1-3:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (see also Isaiah 66:6-24; Jeremiah 4:31; 13:20-27; Hosea 13:12-16; Micah 4:9-10.)
Overall, the symbol is one of anguish, sorrow, intensity, great discomfort, and pain. The prophets contain scores of examples of God's anger at the sins of His people. It is with good reason that the prophecies mention that only a "remnant" will return: Even though the descendants of Jacob will ultimately be saved, the percentage of the current hundreds of millions of Israelites and Jews who survive that trouble will probably be small (see Isaiah 10:20-21).
However, how this illustration is applied is interesting. When it applies to God's enemies, the emphasis is clearly on the pain, anguish, sorrow, and fear of what is ahead (Jeremiah 49:20-24). But when it refers to Israel, as in Jeremiah 30, there is always hope that the pain will be turned to joy, just as with a physical birth (Isaiah 66:8-9). It is painful, but a tremendous blessing is promised to come when it is over (compare Jesus' use of this metaphor in John 16:21).
A hint of this hope appears in Jeremiah 30:7: "But he [Jacob] shall be saved out of it." The pain and the anguish will not end in total annihilation. Certainly, a dear price will be paid in human lives, but the peoples of Jacob will survive and be blessed—both physically and spiritually
David C. Grabbe
The Second Exodus (Part One)
In verse 5, he sees the "image of jealousy" that had been set up in the Temple, an image that had caused God to go far away from the sanctuary (verse 6). This is probably some type of abomination that makes desolate, a pagan idol that had actually been set up in the gate of the Temple courtyard in Jerusalem.
At the end of verse 6, God tells Ezekiel he will see "greater abominations." He spies a hole in a wall in the court of the Temple (verse 7) and obeys God's command to dig around that hole (verse 8). Behind it, lo and behold, he finds a doorway. The door admits him into a very private, hidden inner chamber, the walls of which are engraved with pagan idols, which are, as it says in verse 10, "all the idols of the house of Israel."
In this idol-bedecked room are seventy elders of Israel, "each man had a censer in his hand." Ezekiel is witnessing some kind of pagan worship service going on behind closed doors right there in the Temple! It is very clandestine. Note that the worshippers are not extremists on the fringes of Israelite society, but they are the elders, the leaders of the land! They might be considered the preachers of Judah.
Did Ezekiel witness the movers and shakers of American society in a satanic Skull-and-Bones-type service attended by the President of the United States? That would be a modern, contemporary version of this type of vision, for the leaders of Ephraim and Manasseh today are deeply involved in the occult, witchcraft, and pagan practices to this day. They are all abominations, all very furtive, secret, and surreptitious.
The Torment of the Godly (Part One)
Daniel's prophecy describes the reign of one of the later Syrian kings, Antiochus IV, surnamed Epiphanes ("the manifest" or "the illustrious"). With tragic wit, the Jews named him Epimanes, or "the madman," when it became apparent that his policies were violently anti-Jewish. Determined to "civilize" (i.e., Hellenize) the Jews, this little horn (Daniel 8:9-14) systematically forbade, under penalty of death, circumcision, Sabbath and holy day observance, and the reading or possession of the scrolls of the Torah. He executed some for refusing to eat swine's flesh and butchered others who would not bow to a pagan image.
Additionally, he had a statue of Zeus Olympius (an "abomination of desolation," Daniel 11:31; cf. Matthew 24:15) erected in the Temple. Swine were sacrificed on God's altar, and pagan rites, orgies, and festivals were performed in the Temple grounds. In his pride (Daniel 8:11), he decreed that he should be worshipped as Zeus; his coins were struck with the inscription theos epiphanes ("God manifest"), a horrible counterfeit of the true "God with us."
Other despicable deeds of Antiochus, like his wars against Egypt and the Maccabees, are prophesied in Daniel 11:21-35, where he is clearly depicted as a type of the end-time Beast. His historical activities blend into the future rise and fall of the coming world dictator, who will also speak blasphemies and persecute God's people (Revelation 13:5-7). Expositor's Bible Commentary (vol. 7, pp. 135-142) provides a complete and accurate explanation of these fifteen verses of Daniel 11.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Three): 'Belly and Thighs of Bronze'
These four verses are not only prophecy, but they are also poetry. A poet can take a bit of license, especially with form. Hebrew poets (and angelic ones) are no different, and one of their favorite devices was contrast. They would take subject A and contrast it with subject B, as in Proverbs 15:18: "A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention."
Gabriel does the same with this prophecy. It is composed of two similar contrasts that we will label A1/B1/A2/B2. Verses 25-26a = A1. Verse 26b = B1. Verse 27a = A2. Verse 27b = B2. The verses below are formatted this way to help in understanding the prophecy. This is very important because if it is not heeded, one will credit Antichrist with things that should be credited to the true Messiah.
Introduction: 24 Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
A1: 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. 26a And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
B1: 26b and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.
A2: 27a Then He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
B2: 27b And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'
Protestants try to ascribe the covenant of verse 27 to the Antichrist because "he," they say, refers to "the prince who is to come." But this cannot be! Remember the poetic organization! The key is the word "many." It is literally "the many," and whenever it is used in the Old Testament, it refers to either the covenant people Israel or to the saints, that is, true believers. Jesus says in Matthew 26:28, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Christ makes the covenant, not Antichrist!
Confirm means "strengthen" or "make firm"—almost to the point of being unbreakable. This helps substantiate its reference to the New Covenant, an everlasting covenant that strengthened the basic requirements of the Old Covenant. Significantly, when Christ in the Olivet Prophecy gives His disciples the signs of the end, He does not mention a covenant or treaty to be enacted between the Antichrist and the Jews, Christians, saints, or anyone! He does mention both of the events Gabriel mentions here: the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matthew 24:2) and the abomination of desolation (verse 15).
What about the final three and a half years of the seventieth week? They have yet to be fulfilled, but Gabriel leaves us hanging regarding when they occur. He does not mention them. When could they be fulfilled?
- The seventieth week has been completely fulfilled by the three and a half year ministry of Christ. This seems to be the least likely of these options.
- Christ will complete His ministry in the first three and a half years after His return, before Satan is locked in the bottomless pit. But the Bible does not indicate that any time elapses between His return and Satan's binding in Revelation 19 and 20.
- They are the years of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, during which Christ will complete His ministry through the Two Witnesses and/or to the church in the Place of Safety. Again, this is only speculation—although Paul's training in Arabia may provide a precedent (Galatians 1:11-18).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'
Consider Moffatt's translation of verses 1-2: “For in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, then I will gather all nations and bring them down into the Judgment Valley. . . .”
The prophet Zechariah foretells of something similar: “For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem. . . . Half of the city shall go into captivity . . .” (Zechariah 14:2). It does not make sense that God would have allowed Jerusalem to be attacked and taken if the nation had repented and returned to worshipping Him.
So, the modern Jews who are delivered from famine and destruction from the mighty locust army, who have their fortunes restored by God's perhaps miraculous blessing, fail to turn back to God in any meaningful way. God, then, is forced to act in judgment again, this time, with even greater devastation and death.
This prophecy of Joel 3:2 and Zechariah 14:2—gathering the nations to war against Jerusalem—could not have taken place before the 1967 Six Day War, as it was not a “whole city” of which a half could be taken. A portion of Jerusalem had been captured 19 years earlier by Jordan, and no Jew was allowed in that part of the occupied city. There was no freedom of religion; only Islam was allowed. After 1967, it was reunited and administered wholly by the State of Israel. It is now an entire city of which half can be sent into captivity.
Jesus, in Matthew 24:15-16, 21, reveals what will spur the flight of God's people from Jerusalem:
“Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. . . . For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
This is when the church is taken from Jerusalem to a Place of Safety. There, it is promised, she will be protected and “nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14).
If we surmised time was short a few years ago, we must be on the very cusp of turbulent events soon to assail God's church and His saints. We must be diligent in stepping up our efforts at securing our salvation, at being counted worthy of divine help during these uncertain times of peril and upheaval to come. The words of Jesus in Luke 21:36 should remain constantly in mind:“From hour to hour keep awake, praying that you may succeed in escaping all these dangers to come and in standing before the Son of man” (Moffatt).
What Is Joel 2 Really About?
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